Friday, December 25, 2009

Feast of Saint Stephen


December 26

The epistle of today contains a short account of the life and sufferings of this saint. It only remains to be added that, on account of his virtues, his wisdom, and his zeal for the faith, the apostles thought him worthy to be chosen the first of the seven deacons, whose office it was, in addition to the preaching of the word of God, to serve the poor, and properly to distribute the alms of the faithful.

The Introit says:

"Princes sat and spoke against me, and the wicked persecuted me;
help me, O Lord my God, for Thy servant was employed in Thy justifications.
Blessed are the undefiled in the way, who walk in the law of the Lord."

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

Prayer

Grant us, we beseech Thee, O Lord, to imitate what we honor, that we also may learn to love our neighbors, as we celebrate the feast of Him Who knew how to beseech even for Hili persecutors, Our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who, etc. Amen.

Epistle: Acts 6:8-10; 7:54-59

In those days Stephen full of grace and fortitude did great wonders and signs among the people. Now there arose some of that which is called the synagogue of the Libertines, and of the Cyrenians, and of the Alexandrians, and of them that were of Cilicia and Asia, disputing with Stephen. And they were not able to resist the wisdom and the spirit that spoke. Now hearing these things they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed with their teeth at him. But he being full of the Holy Ghost, looking up steadfastly to heaven, saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God. And he said: Behold I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God. And they crying out with a loud voice, stopped their ears, and with one accord ran violently npon him. And casting him forth without the city, they stoned him, and the witnesses laid down their garments at the feet of a young man whose name was Saul. And they stoned Stephen, invoking, and saying: Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. And falling on his knees, he cried with a loud voice, saying: Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep in the Lord.

Instruction

Stephen is unjustly persecuted, yet he prays for his persecutors. Can we excuse ourselves if we do not love our enemies? Were not Stephen, and others who have imitated him, men like ourselves? With the grace of God, could not we do what they have done? Could we call ourselves Christians were we not to do this? No; for the love of our neighbor, and of our enemy also, is the chief token of the Christian; since it is only by this love that we become like Christ, and resemble our heavenly Father, Who makes His sun to shine upon the evil and the good, and sendeth rains upon the just and upon the unjust (Matthew 5:45). Let us, therefore, imitate the love of God, of Christ, and of Saint Stephen, and then we may one day be able to give up our souls with calmness into the hands of our Maker.

Gospel: Matthew 23:34-39

At that time Jesus said to the scribes and Pharisees: Behold I send to you prophets, and wise men, and scribes; and some of them you will put to death aud crucify, and some you will scourge in your synagogues, and persecute from city to city; that upon you may come all the just blood that hath been shed upon the earth, from the blood of Abel the just, even unto the blood of Zacharias the son of Barachias, whom you killed between the temple and the altar. Amen I say to you, all these things shall come upon this generation. Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them that are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered together thy children, as the hen doth gather her chickens under her wings, and thou wouldst not! Behold your house shall be left to you desolate. For I say to you, you shall not see Me henceforth till you say: Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.

Those in our days who stone and kill the prophets and preachers are those who, by their evil backbiting, defame their pastors, who mock at and despise preachers and sermons; for to the servants of God this is a great torment and source of grief; it destroys their courage and paralyzes their efficiency. On this account it provokes the anger of God, as through the prophets He often told the Jews.

Supplication to Saint Stephen

O Saint Stephen, first of the martyrs, who wast filled with fortitude, grace, and love, whose guiltless face shone like the face of a pure angel, I beseech thee, by the grace which rendered them worthy to see heaven opened and Jesus sitting at the rigbt hand of the Father, that thou wouldst, by thy prayers, procure for me from God a pure conscience, and a holy, meek love, that like thee I may readily forgive those who injure me; may pray for them; may not only desire for them whatever is good, but may do them good indeed, and thereby merit the grace of a happy death. Through Jesus Christ, our Lord, etc. Amen.

--Goffine's Devout Instructions










Saturday, December 12, 2009

The Magnificat (In English and Latin)


My soul magnifies the Lord,
And my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.
For He has regarded the low estate of His handmaiden,
For behold, henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.
For He who is mighty has done great things for me,
and holy is His name.
And His mercy is on those who fear Him
from generation to generation.
He has shown strength with His arm:
He has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.
He has put down the mighty from their thrones,
and exalted those of low degree.
He has filled the hungry with good things;
and the rich He has sent empty away.
He has helped His servant Israel, in remembrance of His mercy;
As He spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to His posterity forever.

Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit.
As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen



* * * * * * *



Magníficat ánima mea Dóminum,
et exsultávit spíritus meus
in Deo salvatóre meo,
quia respéxit humilitátem
ancíllæ suæ.
Ecce enim ex hoc beátam
me dicent omnes generatiónes,
quia fecit mihi magna,
qui potens est,
et sanctum nomen eius,
et misericórdia eius in progénies
et progénies timéntibus eum.
Fecit poténtiam in bráchio suo,
dispérsit supérbos mente cordis sui;
depósuit poténtes de sede
et exaltávit húmiles.
Esuriéntes implévit bonis
et dívites dimísit inánes.
Suscépit Ísrael púerum suum,
recordátus misericórdiæ,
sicut locútus est ad patres nostros,
Ábraham et sémini eius in sæcula.

Glória Patri et Fílio
et Spirítui Sancto.
Sicut erat in princípio,
et nunc et semper,
et in sæcula sæculórum.
Amen.


Thursday, July 02, 2009

Feast of Saint Thomas the Apostle



Feast of Saint Thomas the Apostle

December 21

THOMAS, also called Didymus, or the twin, was a fisherman of Galilee. After having been received among the apostles he accompanied Jesus in all His journeys, and uniformly showed docility, zeal, and love towards Him, particularly on the occasion of His going to Bethany to raise Lazarus from the dead. For when the apostles were afraid to go thither, because the Jews desired to kill Jesus, Thomas, full of courage, said, "Let us also go, that we may die with Him" (John 11:16). His faith, indeed, wavered for a moment in regard to the resurrection of Christ; but no sooner had Christ satisfied him thereof by showing His wounds, than he cried out with firm faith, "My Lord and my God." Saint Gregory thereupon says,
God overruled the doubting of Thomas to our good, since that very doubt has profited us more than the ready belief of the other disciples, inasmuch as thereby Christ was induced to give so much clearer proofs of His resurrection, in order to confirm us in the belief of it.
Thomas showed the firmness of his faith by the innumerable labors which he undertook, and by the sufferings that he endured for Christ. He traversed the most extensive and remote countries, and preached Jesus to the Armenians, Medes, Persians, Parthians, Hyrcanians, Bactrians, and other barbarous and wicked nations, enduring in the course of his labors, with astonishing firmness, the greatest sufferings for the honor of God and the salvation of men. Finally he came to Ilidia, when, in the city of Calamina, or Meliapor, he underwent a glorious martyrdom, being pierced through with lances, by order of the idolatrous priests, as he was praying at the foot of the cross. So much did the apostle do to repair a single fault; but we, who every day commit so many - what do we do to repair them?

In the Introit of the Mass the Church announces to us how greatly the apostles were exalted by God, Who made them teachers and fathers of the whole world. She cries out, therefore, "To me Thy friends, O God, are made exceedingly honorable; their principality is exceedingly strengthened. Lord, Thou hast proved me and known me; Thou hast known my sitting down and my rising up" (Psalm: 138). Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

Prayer

Grant us, we beseech Thee, O Lord, to glory in the solemnity of Thy blessed apostle Thomas, that we may be ever assisted by his patronage, and follow his faith with suitable devotion. Through Christ, Our Lord, Amen.

Epistle: Ephesians 2:19-22

Brethren: Now you are no more strangers and foreigners, but you are fellow-citizens with the saints, and the domestics of God. Built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief corner-stone, in Whom all the building, being framed together, groweth up into a holy temple in the Lord, in Whom you also are built together into a habitation of God in the Spirit.

The gospel and an explanation of it are to be found on the first Sunday after Easter, page 219.

Prayer

O most benign Jesus, Who didst permit the unbelieving Thomas to touch the prints of Thy holy wounds, and didst thereby deliver him from his unbelief, oh, heal the wounds of my heart; give me a living, firm, and enduring faith in Thee, such as may ever incite me to do what shall be pleasing to thee, and to shun whatever may displease Thee. I beseech it of Thee by Thy mercy to Thomas in showing the prints of Thy wounds to him.

--Goffine's Devout Instructions

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Feast of Saints Peter and Paul


Feast of Saints Peter and Paul, Apostles

June 29

PETER, formerly called Simon, was a son of Jonas, of Bethsaida, in Galilee, and It brother of Andrew, by whom he was brought to Christ, Who at once changed his name and called him Peter. When, soon after, Jesus said to both of them on the Sea of Tiberias, "Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men," they both left their nets and followed Him. From this time forward Jesus was constantly giving him particular proofs of His love. From the ship of Peter He taught the thronging multitude, and to him He promised that on him; as upon a rock, He would build His Church, against which the gates of hell should not prevail. Our Lord took Peter with Him at the raising of Jairus' daughter from the dead; at His own transfiguration on Mount Thabor; at the beginning of His passion in the Garden of Gethsemani. To him He promised the keys of the kingdom of heaven; for him He specially prayed that his faith might not fail; and him He commanded to strengthen his brethren. After His resurrection He appeared particularly to Peter, and three times commanded him to feed His flock. But Peter had, above all the other apostles, made himself worthy of this pre-eminence by his living faith, his humility, his love, and his zeal for the honor of Jesus; for he it was who, before the other apostles, made the confession, "Thou art Christ, the Son of the living God." He showed his humility when, at the miraculous draught of fishes, he said, "Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord." Out of love he desired to remain always with Christ on Mount Thabor to prevent Him from suffering; and out of love he declared himself ready with Christ to live or die; nay, he even declared most confidently that, though all should be scandalized in Christ, yet he would not be. When Jesus was taken prisoner, Peter showed himself to be most courageous by cutting off the ear of one of his Master's enemies, and by following Him to the house of Caiphas. Three times, indeed, did he, as no one else did, deny his Lord out of fear; but the look of forgiving love which Jesus cast upon him forced from him tears of the deepest contrition, and three times afterwards, accordingly, he made that coufession, "Lord, Thou knowest that I love Thee."

After he had received the Holy Ghost, full of courage, he confessed Christ crucified, and preached Him in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Ionia, and Bithynia. At Jerusalem he was once already condemned to death, but was set free by an angel. In the year 54 he went to Rome, whence, after a nine years' residence, he was banished, with many other Christians. Upon returning thither again he was confined in the Mamertine prison, and finally, on June 29, in the year A.D. 67, under the Emperor Nero, he was crucified; his head, by his own desire, hung downwards, because he thought himself unworthy to die like Christ.

PAUL, before his conversion called Saul, was of the tribe of Benjamin, a native of Tarsus, in Cilicia, and a pupil of Gamaliel. Full of zeal for the law, he bitterly opposed the Christians. As he was travelling to Damascus to persecute them he was, on the way, converted by Christ. How indefatigably he thenceforward worked in the vineyard of the Lord, and what dangers and persecutions he underwent, no pen can describe. It is almost incredible with what zeal and perseverance he preached Christ, in chains and fetters, under blows and scourges, in hunger and thirst, and untold times at the peril of his life. And yet he was so humble that he counted himself the least of the apostles, and always praised God that He had thought him worthy to suffer for His name. After he had at last fought a good fight, and finished his course - having everywhere zealously preached the Gospel, and still more zealously practised it - he received the crown of justice (II Timothy 4:6). The Emperor Nero caused him to be beheaded on the same day tl1at Peter was crucified.

The Introit of the Mass is in the words spoken by Saint Peter after his delivery from the prison at Jerusalem:
"Now I know in very deed that the Lord hath sent His angel and hath delivered me out of the hands of Herod, and from all the expectation of the people of the Jews." (Acts 12:11) "Lord, Thou hast proved me and known me; Thou hast known my sitting down and my rising up." (Psalms 138:1, 2)
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

Prayer

O God, Who hast consecrated this day by the martyrdom of Thy apostles Saints Peter and Paul, grant to Thy Church, in all things, to follow their doctrines, through whom the true faith was first proclaimed. Through Christ our Lord, Amen.

Epistle: Acts 12:1-11

In those days: Herod the king stretched forth his hands, to affiict some of the Church. And he killed James the brother of John with the sword. And seeing that it pleased the Jews, he proceeded to take up Peter also. Now it was in the days of the Azymes. And when he had apprehended him, he cast him into prison, delivering him to four files of soldiers to be kept, intending after the Pasch to bring him forth to the people. Peter therefore was kept in prison. But prayer was made without ceasing by the Church unto God for him. And when Herod would have brought him forth, the same night Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains, and the keepers before the door kept the prison. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood by him, and a light shined in the room, and he striking Peter on the side raised him up, saying: Arise quickly. And the chains fell off from his hands. And the angel said to him: Gird thyself, and put on thy sandals. And he did so. And he said to him: Cast thy garment about thee, and follow me. And going out he followed him, and he knew not that it was true which was done by the angel, but thought he saw a vision. And passing through the first and the second ward, they came to the iron gate that leadeth to the city, which of itself opened to them. And going out, they passed on through one street, and immediately the angel departed from him. And Peter coming to himself, said: Now I know in very deed that the Lord hath sent His angel, and hath delivered me out of the hand of Herod, and from all the expectation of the people of the Jews.

Gospel: Matthew 16:13-19

At that time Jesus came into the quarters of Cesarea Philippi, and He asked His disciples, saying: Who do men say that the Son of man is? But they said: Some John the Baptist, and other some Elias, and others Jeremias, or one of the prophets. Jesus saith to them; But who do you say that I am? Simon Peter answered and said: Thou art Christ the Son of the living God. And Jesus answering, said to him: Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-Jona, because flesh and blood hath not revealed it to thee, but My Father Who is in heaven. And I say to thee: That thou art Peter; and upon this rock I will build My Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give to thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven. And whatsoever thou shalt bind upon earth it shall be bound also in heaven, and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth, it shall be loosed also in heaven.
Why did Christ ask His disciples, "Who do men say that the Son of man is?"
To give them an opportunity to confess their belief in Him as the true Son of God, and upon that open confession to ground a promise of the highest importance.
Why does Christ call Himself the Son of man?
In order that, His Godhead being veiled under the form of man, He might thus test the faith of His disciples, and teach us that He was both true God and true man.
What did Peter mean to say by those words, "Thou art Christ, the Son of the living God"?
He thereby confesses that Christ is the Son of God, begotten from all eternity, and therefore of the same substance with the Father; that by Him all things were made, and that from Him comes our life in soul and body.
What reward did Peter receive for his confession?
Christ pronounced him blessed that God had given him such grace, conveyed to him the highest authority in His Church, and gave him the pre-eminence above all the apostles.
What is the meaning of the expression "to bind and to loose"?
According to Isaias, it signifies to open and to shut heaven, and here consequently denotes the power, as representative of Jesus Christ, to receive persons into the Church, and to excommunicate them from it; to forgive sins, or to retain them; to impose or to remit punishments for them; to establish laws and prohibitions, to abolish them, to change them, and, in general, to govern and direct in everything, as shall be necessary for the preservation of unity and order in the Church, and for the good of the faithful.
Was the power to bind and to loose given to Peter only?
No, but to the rest of the apostles also; the power of the keys, however, Jesus gave only to Peter. Peter, therefore, and his successors, possess this supreme power, while the other apostles and their successors, the bishops, possess the authority intrusted to them by Christ, to be exercised by them in unity with the rock, that is, with Peter and his successors.

OF THE POPE
What is the Pope to the Catholic?
The represeutative of Jesus Christ, and the visible head, appoiuted by Him, for the government of His Church.
Did Christ actually appoint such a supreme head?
Yes, and that in the person of Saint Peter. He gave him the significant name Peter - the rock, distingllished him always above the other apostles, and laid upon him the charge to feed His lambs, that is, the faithful, and His sheep, that is, the bishops themselves; and this power Peter uniformly exercised.
Why did Christ appoint a visible head for the Church?
Because the Church is an outward, visible society, united together not only by inward faith in Christ, but also by outward, visible signs. Such a visible head is as necessary for the Church as for a body, a family, a society, a state, to prevent disunion, confusion, and the consequent destruction of the whole; this supreme head is the centre of the whole, the final judge, the authoritative teacher.
Who is now this supreme head?
The Bishop of Rome, or the Pope. It is undeniable that Peter occupied the bishop's see at Rome, and that he died there. Equally indisputable is it that the successor of Saint Peter entered upon possession of his rights, and, together with the episcopal see of Rome, inherited also the office possessed by him. From the first centuries this has ever been acknowledged by the faithful, who have accordingly called the Bishop of Rome Pope - that is, the father of the faithful. And how clearly does history show that Peter and his successors are the rock upon which the Lord has immovably founded His Church! What storms have not broken upon the Church! Persecutions from without and within, heresies and schisms without number, and infidelity in its most hideous form, have raged against the Church, and what has been the consequence? Nations have often fallen away from the Church, single bishops have proved betrayers of their flocks, the sees of the apostles themselves have been subject to the vicissitudes of time. And amid all these storms Rome alone has, for over eighteen hundred years, stood firm. She has come out of every contest victorious, has remained the centre of faith and discipline, and has preserved the unbroken succession of bishops from Peter. Who does not see herein the assistance of Him Who forever fulfils that promise of His, "Upon this rock I will build My Church, and the gates I of hell shall not prevail against it"? The Pope is, therefore, the visible supreme head of the Church, appointed by Christ for all time; the invisible, all-governing head is Christ Himself.
Prayer

O Jesus Christ, Son of the living God, Who hast built Thy Church on Saint Peter, as on a rock, Who hast confided to him the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and constituted him and his successors Thy representatives upon earth, grant us Thy grace, that in all the laws we may obey them as Thyself, that, resting upon the rock of truth, we may be immovable in all storms, and steadfastly persevere in the way of good works.

--Goffine's Devout Instructions













Monday, June 22, 2009

The Second Epistle of Saint Paul to Timothy


Chapter Four

1 I charge thee, before God and Jesus Christ, who shall judge the living and the dead, by his coming, and his kingdom:

2 Preach the word: be instant in season, out of season: reprove, entreat, rebuke in all patience and doctrine.

3 For there shall be a time, when they will not endure sound doctrine; but, according to their own desires, they will heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears:

4 And will indeed turn away their hearing from the truth, but will be turned unto fables.

5 But be thou vigilant, labour in all things, do the work of an evangelist, fulfil thy ministry. Be sober.

6 For I am even now ready to be sacrificed: and the time of my dissolution is at hand.

7 I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith.

8 As to the rest, there is laid up for me a crown of justice, which the Lord the just judge will render to me in that day: and not only to me, but to them also that love his coming. Make haste to come to me quickly.

9 For Demas hath left me, loving this world, and is gone to Thessalonica:

10 Crescens into Galatia, Titus into Dalmatia.

11 Only Luke is with me. Take Mark, and bring him with thee: for he is profitable to me for the ministry.

12 But Tychicus I have sent to Ephesus.

13 The cloak that I left at Troas, with Carpus, when thou comest, bring with thee, and the books, especially the parchments.

14 Alexander the coppersmith hath done me much evil: the Lord will reward him according to his works:

15 Whom do thou also avoid, for he hath greatly withstood our words.

16 At my first answer no man stood with me, but all forsook me: may it not be laid to their charge.

17 But the Lord stood by me, and strengthened me, that by me the preaching may be accomplished, and that all the Gentiles may hear: and I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion.

18 The Lord hath delivered me from every evil work: and will preserve me unto his heavenly kingdom, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

19 Salute Prisca and Aquila, and the household of Onesiphorus.

20 Erastus remained at Corinth. And Trophimus I left sick at Miletus.

21 Make haste to come before winter Eubulus and Pudens, and Linus and Claudia, and all the brethren, salute thee.

22 The Lord Jesus Christ be with thy spirit. Grace be with you. Amen.











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